We enjoyed the few days spent in this beautiful anchorage. The highlight of which was the hike up the arroyo to Salinas. We didn’t know how far we would get and had been warned that the trail was a little confusing due to cairns not being present. What we found was more than one trail and luck was not on our side, we wandered off into desert scrub. Eventually Sue and I headed for high ground, scrambling up a ridge to see where the trail was. This was helpful, though a little out of the way and eventually made back to the trail. We never made the 12 miles to Salinas but the view from the ridge top was well worth all the wandering. My feet were sore and the throat dry by the time we returned, a cold beer was well earned today!!!
I thought I should make a quick entry on the constant job of keeping the bottom clear of growth. Even though we left Canada with fresh bottom paint it was no match for the pressure of sea life to grow. We started in Barra de Navidad scraping barnacles off the bottom every couple of weeks, now up in the Sea of Cortes a whole variety of plant and animal life would like to turn the bottom of our boat into a reef. The prop and shaft take weekly cleaning and every few days we do a little on the bottom of the boat. All this cleaning has completely rubbed most the bottom paint off in some areas. The take away here is – MORE PAINT! Yes we should have at least double coated our boat before heading south and if possible smuggle some higher copper content paint from the US. At best Interlux CSC will last one year here in warmer water, and that is with lots of bottom diving included!
Our next stop was back on Isla Coronado to meet Dee and Mark on Speakeasy! They had taken our faulty EPIRB back to Canada to be replaced and were now returning the new one. We give Kannad and Paynes Marine top marks for looking after this in short order back in Canada. Dee also brought some treasured food items from the north, almond butter, Sencha green tea and chocolate. We hiked the volcano again with Mark and Josh running down the mountain back to the beach, ah to have joint that can handle the grind! We took a trip to Loretto on Speakeasy, walked the 2 miles to the Saloon restaurant and enjoyed the “Best Burger in Baja” beer and the authentic old time saloon decor, then stocked up on food returned to Isla Coronado. After one final farewell dinner they headed north and we South to Ballandra.
San Juanico was to be the furthest north into the sea we would go and the plan was to spend a little more time here and explore the area a little more deeply. We we’re happy to see numerous boats that had befriended us south in the Melaque area. We had beach fires, Botchi ball on the beach in the afternoons, and happy hour get togethers. This was a great place to be for the Mexican holiday Samana Santa, numerous families made the trek to the beach and the late night parties were not overwhelming. Josh was befriended by a couple on a Hatteras style fishing boat that was using San Juanico as a fishing base. He learned about how to catch fish now that they were deeper and he and I did do a dinghy trip out a couple of miles to a reef but to no avail. They took pity on Josh and gave him one of their Yellowtail catch for the day, very tasty. Sue and I spend many hours hiking the hills, swimming and reading. Here she finally got serious about writing a book about her Successful Learners so every day for an hours or so she would hide with her computer and write away. Even Josh enjoyed some of this down time, from doing homework that is, and would hang listening to music. Alas the time came for us to turn around and head to La Paz. From here on we are on the way back to Canada which is bitter-sweet , we will miss the this part of the world and the adventure it represents but our community in Pacific Northwest will be great to connect with again. Of course there is the getting home part which will be a whole different kind of adventure!
Isla Coronado is an old volcano which was surrounded by coral reef and in the past when water levels were much higher these reefs were hudge. Now these old reef can be seen above the beaches, they look like hills until you see where water has cut away channels – solid coral up to 20 feet thick. This is also why the beaches and anchoring ground is white coral sand on the bottom, beautiful beyond words. From the boat at anchor you see Manta Rays , fish of all colours and type swimming by – we were anchored in an aquarium. The second day we decided to climb to the top of the volcano which was a real scramble but well worth the views. Upon our return we were surprised to find our boat FULL of bees. They were massed any where water might have been and as the picture shows our damp dish rag was covered. Josh had to fish the rag out of the boat from above with his fishing gear and then we quickly pull up our anchor and headed north. Later we found that thirsty bees can be a problem so when you leave your boat have no water inside, some even put a tray outside on the deck as a diversion.
Puerto Escondito is a little unusual because a large part of the harbour is occupied by an unfinished Fonatur Marina and the outside anchoring area run by API is packed with boats at anchor. Some of these boats at anchor looked like they had not moved in years! After chatting up some of the locals we found out that the harbour was a major cruising hangout until Fonatur moved in and started charging to anchor, causing the crowd out in the “Waiting Room” as it was dubbed. Some of those we talked to had been their for 20 years or more!!!!! We opted to pay for a mooring and do laundry, internet … The highlight of our stay was the hike up Steinbeck canyon behind marina. The hike was stunningly beautiful, lots of bordering, fresh water creek, bird and bees. We meet a family who befriended us and we went with them into Loretto looking for burgers at the famous “ Saloon”, we had to settle for a restaurant on the water because the The Saloon was closed. We need groceries and after seeing they lay of the land we decided to stop at Lorreto on our way to Coronado Island to shop. This is an open roadstead anchorage so you have to be ready to leave if the wind comes up. Loretto is has one of the oldest Missions on the west coast and is a very clean pretty town with tree lined cobble stone street and a pleasant pace of life.
Aqua Verdi some 15 miles north was our next destination. A little norther was coming our way and this anchorage provided protection as well as a small community with a Tienda, and beach front palapa restaurant. The restaurant was run by a local women cooperative and the best fish tacos so far on this trip could be had there. The community also raise a lot of goats for milk and meat. The local fresh goat cheese was a treat not to mention all the very cute baby goats running everywhere. We got some great hikes in to the surrounding beaches with one to an old cave that had paintings We could not find any accurate info on how old they were except “ they were old”. The white sand bottom, clear (warm) water looked beautifully turquoise and even more so with the Baja brown, red and green back drop. Here we got into snorkelling some of the reefs sounding the bay which is always a treat. So many types of fish sin such small areas many painted in beautiful colour patterns. From here the plan was a stop at Chico Candeleros then to Puerto Escondido for a couple of days.
More boats were beginning to crowd into San Francisco so we hopped north Punta Salinas the site of an abandoned salt flat, though it looked like some of these VERY large ponds were still in production. These beaches were long with Josh spending hours looking for that conch shell for his collection, no luck this time. Our next jump was to a small anchorage behind Punta San Telmo. We are constantly amazed by the geography of this coastline. From a distance it has a familiar look but up close every few miles new amazing rock formations would show themselves. From sandstone shelves, limestone bands full of shells, conglomerates of all size and shapes we loved wandering the shoreline. We had out first Baja beach fire dinner with Josh doing an amazing job of gathering fire wood!
The trip across the Sea of Cortes with its prevailing NW winds can be challenging when you are trying to head North up the sea. At best you can catch a southerly which does happen from time to time and this is what we were attempting to do. Our crossing ended up being windless until the last 5 miles! The Sea of Cortes had this oily appearance which made it easy to pic out the many turtles that were drifting somewhere in the sea. All you could see were these bumps and occasionally as we would pass a head would pop up to see what was going by.
Josh managed to hook the largest Dorado of the trip which had his reel literally smoking! Took about an hour to land it, he was tired and happy, we were glad to stock the freezer again with on of our favourite fish. All that fishing meant we arrived in the dark with maybe 10 anchor lights to avoid!
The next morning was a little shocking, we left the tropical green of the mainland and arrived in the turquoise blue water and white coral sand of the Baja desert; the contrast was stunning. We were eager to hike the hills and get a big view of this new land. Unlike the mainland jungle, we could almost hike anywhere which excited Sue who loves a good hike! We also discovered that we were in the land of salt ponds – sea salt will not be something on the shopping list here. This was such a pretty spot we elected to spend a few days to acclimatize before moving north.
Mazatlan doesn’t have any good close anchorages except in the old harbour which has the sewage treatment plant in front of it, with predicable results. Most of the boats head for the Marina’s just north of town where a dredged harbour is home to numerous facilities. We stayed at the El Cid Hotel marina which gave us among other things swimming pools to play and lounge in. For 5 days we were in with the docker cruising set, who could always be caught drinking cocktails by the pool. Actually even though we did a little of that our boat needed a clean, re-provision and we had a mission to check out Mazatlan’s old town. Needless to say we were busy!!! Provisioning was easy because large stores were a quick bus ride away and here we found our favourite Mexican beer, Pacifico for 167 peso’s a flat (24 beers), this coverts to about 75 cents a beer Canadian, so we filled Josh’s closet!!
We hit the old market which was a hub of activity and then wandered around this very beautiful old city. Lots of the old building was now being restored as homes and small businesses. The other amazing thing about Mazatlan is the size of their malecon was many miles long. It ran from the Golden Zone all the way to the lighthouse at the harbour entrance call El Faro. We were tourists for a few days hiking around town to get a feel of this older tourist destination, ate some of the best gourmet tacos we have ever had, climbed El Faro and …. With our window for crossing the Sea narrowing we headed out thinking that a little more time in that city would have been great, but the call of the Baja peninsula lured us away.